The last couple days I’ve been out here, I’ve been wanting to put words to just what it is I love so much about the desert, why this place feels so filling and healing to me.
I know for sure a big part is the nostalgia factor. This place is home to so many of my best childhood memories. It’s making up games with my brother in our golf course of a backyard, like assembling “dinner pods” for the ducks and floating them out into the lakes, and waking up on Easter morning to overflowing Easter baskets and thrilling egg hunts. It’s second Christmases and New Years and Dad launching us into the deep end of the pool in the summers. It’s Grammy chasing us around playing “mouse in the house” and Grandad showing us his latest gadget addition. It’s careening around cart paths in the golf cart with friends once all the golfers have finished up and ice blocking together in the black of night. It’s my innocence and family and carefree, childlike fun all rolled into one.
There’s also something grounding about the desert. The way the surroundings are able to physically calm me by reaching all five of my senses – a truly connected and sensual experience in the truest meaning of the word. It’s like a visual, physical and spiritual feast for my soul.
The colors, ugh the colors – piercing blue skies covering a neutral landscape of sand and rocks, but interrupted by almost electric green lawns and deep pink bougainvillea and cheery yellow blossoms in the trees. My favorite color palette though is when the day turns to evening, and the mountains change to hues of purples, hanging in the foreground of pink and tangerine skies, with soft golden light streaming through the palm trees, casting dramatic shadows and a comforting filter onto everything it touches.
Then there are the smells. The sweet smelling flowers mixed with warm dry air and fresh-cut grass. The way our condo smells just a little bit dusty, but in a rustic way, and how when I leave I carry it with me for a bit, on my clothes but mostly in my hair, blended with skin that smells like sunscreen and the old school Tide detergent that’s here. The desert even feels good to touch. The feel of the grass beneath our feet when we do cartwheels on the fairway, the cooling chill of the pool when you finally jump in after letting your skin get sweaty and fiery hot in the sun, the way your skin melts into the air and that perfect temperature in the early evening. Then there’s the taste of cracker bread with melted cheese and tomatoes that we only seem to make in the desert, paired with cold grapes and fizzy drinks by the pool, all delivered by my angel of a mom.
The sounds, or lack thereof, might be what calms me the most. The gentle white noise of the fountain in the lake nearby only interrupted by the crisp *clink!* of the ball flying off the tee from clear across the fairway. Every so often there are the wild winds that pick up at night - honestly being way too overdramatic most of the time - but still giving us Californians the illusion of weather for a bit. But mostly there’s just peaceful quiet under the velvety dark blanket of night, speckled with stars.
Beyond the nostalgia and the body-to-earth connection, there’s the overarching simplicity of stillness that comes with the desert. My time is mostly spent lounging, strolling, swimming, sun-soaking, and sleeping. The ultimate place of surrender and receiving. It’s no wonder some of my loveliest and happiest memories are wrapped up in this place. And that my soul craves it when I’m away or in need of a retreat from a life that can get unnecessarily overcomplicated. A piece of my heart will always belong to the desert, which is why I’ll never stop coming here to be united with that part of me - the little girl that just wants to run wild and free, lavishly soaking up the care and love offered by my family, the earth, and grown-up Sara that still needs all those things too.